Merry Christmas, Times Four!

Aunt Elsa's BannerNow isn’t THAT a happy way to say Merry Christmas?

Last Christmas I shared with you the lovely vintage “Merry Christmas” banner that my Aunt Elsa had made for me decades ago. I wrote about the large quantity of banners that she made, assuring that all the extended family, and several friends, had one of their own. This was no small feat, as she estimated each one took 50-60 hours for her to complete.

Shortly after that post, I got an email from my oldest sister. Apparently I was wrong about who had banners, as she did not have one of Elsa’s wonderful creations. She had moved abroad about the time Elsa was making them, and was traveling a lot, so I can see that she may have missed out on it. I double checked with family, apparently everyone else had one.

128My other sister lives nearby. We decided to share the fun and split the task to create a banner for our distant sister, and wanted it ready before she came to visit in November. We studied each of our originals closely, sought out interesting sequins and such, drafted letters we liked, sat down to cut them out. Then we set up a time once a month to get together and work on them, with a goal of completing two or three letters a month.

135Using pinking shears was a must to duplicate the look of Elsa’s banners. We were surprised to see that our two banners were completely different, Elsa had made no two letters the same! Searching stores and online for interesting sequins, including vintage ones, we found that most are now larger than the ones she used, and some charming designs are no longer to be found.

115I even cut one of Elsa’s letters open from the back to see how she had managed to attach the white felt to the red felt and get them just stiff enough to stand up to years of wear and tear. Coffee stir sticks and toothpicks were glued or stitched in place between the layers. Using Elsa’s approach, we sometimes made intricate designs, but other letters were very free-form. Some are heavily covered, others are more lacy and sparse. It was interesting to see that each of us had our own style for creating designs, which made it even more fun when we put them together.

140Actually, we finished our sister’s banner in the summer. Not ready to stop, we started making one for a mutual friend we have known since we were in our teens. We had to push to get the second one done too. And now there were four banners, the original two Aunt Elsa had made, and the two we had created. Our eyes were tested with the teeny, tiny close-work, and our fingers were well pricked by slender beading needles.

Two Sisters, Two Vintage and Two New Banners

Two Sisters, Two Vintage and Two New Banners

Both banners were big surprises to the recipients, and are now adorning mantels here and in Europe. A couple of the upcoming generation gals are interested in trying their hand at making one, so I think I will be coaching next year as they work on them. Aunt Elsa’s legacy will touch generations who never knew her.

Happy holidays to you all. Be sure to share your talents and treasures in the coming year. Let me know what you are passing on to the next generation of creative people!

(Have you sung your Christmas Carols from The Curious Quilter’s Glee Club yet?)
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comMerry Christmas, Times Four© 2012 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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10 Responses to Merry Christmas, Times Four!

  1. What a beautiful story of love, commitment and tradition. You have gladdened my heart today. Thank you. May you and your family enjoy a Christmas blessed by Christ’s love.

  2. Cynthia says:

    Great story and what a wonderful reminder of what Christmas should be all about. Greatest blessings on your holiday and the love you have shared!

  3. Nancy D says:

    Do you need a new foster sister?? 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

  4. Susan says:

    That is the best genealogy story I’ve heard in ages! I love how Aunt Elsa will continue to be a part of families for years to come. Did you check Cartwright?

  5. Gretchen fogo says:

    Sitting in my dining room on Christmas Eve, looking at my banner. such lovely memories of my mom , who thought of herself as your grandma on that side of the family, since you had not. known Grandma Johnson. My kids are here and their banner hangs in their home. lIt really is a nice legacy.

  6. Carol says:

    Aren’t sisters wonderful! Many thanks to you both!
    Carol (the distant sister)

  7. Kim says:

    Merry Christmas! How wonderful of both of you to do this for your sister!

  8. Marianne says:

    What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing it, and Merry Christmas.

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